Young Mr Van Gilder’s Summer Outing Costumes: 1892

The Summer Man at the helm. J.C. Leyendecker (The Arrow Shirt Man artist)

The Summer Man at the helm. J.C. Leyendecker (The Arrow Shirt Man artist)



Its Perusal Will Also Assist the Correct Young Man to Steer Clear of the Shoals of Giddiness and Gaudiness in Summer Outing Costumes.

New York, May 17. The midsummer meanderings of young Mr. Percival Van Gilder, told upon the basis of his complete outing repertory, would be a faithful chronicle of what the warm weather swell of dressy inclinations will possess, and when and in what manner he will wear it.

It is not without a feeling of pleasurable expectancy that Mr. Percival Van Gilder contemplates the abrupt and contrasting metamorphosis from the comparative quietude of the spring fabrics to the livelier tinted products of the outing regime. The swagger whipper snapper club man has, moreover, made his purchases with a greater sense of security than in previous seasons, for the shoals of giddiness and gaudiness are less dangerous in the apparent moderation shown by the designers of negligee stuffs.

“There is no reason why one should not be well dressed, when one has the time to think about it and the money to carry out one’s ideas,” mused Van Gilder, and then arousing himself from his philosophizing mood he summoned his valet.

“Buttles,” said he, when that worthy had appeared, “let us go over the route I have laid out for the summer campaign. There is nothing lacking, I fancy, in the essentials—although of course certain minor articles, such as neckwear and the like, must be had from time to time.”

man in casual summer attire

“Everything is ready, sir,” answered Buttles. “I have packed your yachting suits in a separate trunk, sir.”

“Ah, yes; let me look them over. Have you arranged them just as I shall wear them—for you know I cannot take you with me, as there is no extra room for body servants on Hammersford’s big schooner.”

“Yes, sir; I have put the white and blue suits together.”

“Wrong, Buttles; rearrange them. The white altogether is too monotonous, and with the blue altogether one looks like a portah. Did you notice that the white trousers had a wide blue stripe down the side and the blue trousers had a white stripe down the side? That is the very latest, Buttles.”

man in boater

Buttles, with great diplomacy, shows his appreciate of these nice distinctions by nods and smirks, while he redistributes the yachting suits in accordance with directions. The white reefing jacket Mr. Van Gilder puts on. It is the very acme of swaggerness. Made of the finest flannel, it looks like a piece of box cloth. The welt seams are wide, it hangs loose to the figure, although shaped slightly at the sides; it is three buttoned, double breasted, of good length for a roundabout, with big white, real ivory buttons.

Buttles also lays aside in this lot several all silk, solid color, negligee shirts in dark shades, and two of fine merino with silk stripes. When an uncounted bunch of pongee silk handkerchiefs and several smart sailor ties have been added, the supervising clubman smiles approval and remarks: “You know the rest, of course, in the regulation way. Mawning suit, evening suit, and the fixings that go with them, in case of any affayah not having an aquatic flavah.”

Thus the first station in the route was passed.

“Newport next, sir?” queried the man-servant, and then at asset he continued, “I have included your driving coat and riding trousers and polo pantaloons and”—

“Never mind those Buttles—they go along to be shuah, but that is another story. The strictly summer duds, the striped and plain tennis suits—the one to lounge in, and the one to play in—there you have them.”

The tennis suit for play consisted of white flannel trousers and an outing coat of a peculiar wide plaid pattern in high colorings, blue predominant. The cap was of blue flannel and to be worn with it was a soft blue Windsor tie. The outing lounge suit for general wear about the Casino or during the informal hours of the day is of light gray through which is traced indistinctly a mauve stripe of about an eighth of an inch in width that gives but a gentle livening to the fabric. With this is worn a fine Madras negligee shirt in quiet combination, the collar and cuffs being attached to the shirt and laundered.

Mr. Van Gilder handles with a caressing touch the big unlined heliotrope Ascot scarving which he will tie in a four-in-hand knot with this ensemble. The quietude of this makeup, more particularly the cassimere effect of the tropical weight suiting, makes the young exquisite in this garb dressed as well for town or country during the warm spell, and in this view will warrant the donning of it by Mr. Van Gilder, should he desire to run into town some sweltering day for an hour’s chat with his financial manager in Wall street.

man in striped suit and bowler

The newest and lowest crowned from of the Sennett straw hat completes this aggregation. “And, Buttles,” exclaimed his master suddenly, as though the thought had just come to mind, “did my new sun umbrella come home? Let me see it.”

The sun umbrella is the very latest summer fad of the swells, and as Mr. Van Gilder had had this example made to order under his especial direction he was naturally anxious to behold how his instructions had been followed.

It was certainly a unique and beautiful specimen of the umbrella maker’s handicraft. The material was fine pongee and the stick was of Scotch thistle—a light colored wood. The handle was in knob design accentuated with silver upon the root marks, while silver wire tracery around the neck formed the letters P.V.G. This sun umbrella was rolled as close as the finest rain umbrella, and its owner contemplated his new acquisition with undisguised admiration. “I know of nothing more rational or useful than that,” said he in a half tone of soliloquy. “I shall take comfort out of that. A hot sun is quite as disagreeable and necessary to ward off as a fierce rainstorm. Buttles, strap that up with my canes; I shall take it with me wherever I go this summer.”

Having settled in a general way the question of yachting and tennis wear the Van Gilder rubbed his hands in contemplation of Cape May. “Buttles, two bathing suits. Yes, to be sure—and the double breasted white waistcoat, and the small check flannel suiting. Oh, yes—need braces for that—ever wear belt when a waistcoat is worn, Buttles, just as one must never wear suspenders when one wears the belt—when of course the waistcoat is to be omitted. The wearing of belt and suspenders at one and the same time implies a lack of confidence, Buttles, somewhat humoresque.

“For Narragansett Pier, sir; shall I put in a sash and several of your negligee shirts?”

“Yes, Buttles, and let them be the liveliest you have.”

A consultation of his engagement book was followed by a rehearsal of the outing programme for Richfield Springs and Bar Harbor. In deference to the craze for riding and driving at the first named al the essentials of attire in these two fads were carefully considered and a programme of distingue outing wear was laid out.

“Include all the fanciful stuff I have, Buttles, for Mount Desert. There one revels in yachting, boating, lounging, rocking and bathing. And don’t forget the knickerbockers, Buttles. I don’t know why I wear them, for I never ride a bicycle, but the other fellows who are not wheelmen wear knee breeches and Buttles”—Mr. Van Gilder paused and gave a glance down at his well shapen calves, the badge of his sturdy Dutch ancestry, and added laconically, “why not?”

“Indeed, there’s no reason, sir,” answered the loyal manservant, “as any one can see.”

“Then the windup in the Berkshire hills. I do not see what I dare venture to take with me there. They are so howling formal at Lenox. Still, Buttles, make a note for some of the quietest toned and richest negligee shirts, a couple of outing suits and one or two fancy waistcoats, and I will risk it. And now, Buttles, that will be all. I shall have you but a short time this summer, and while you are at home you will better know from this going over what to send me at different points. Perhaps I may run back to town once or twice to keep things straight. And, by the way, Buttles, don’t forget about the pajamas. No nightgowns—only pajamas during the warm weather.”

It will be seen from this manner of allotment and selection that being a well-dressed man is, with young Van Gilder, largely a matter of expert individual judgment.

But while the swagger club man consults no code of rules for guidance, certain axioms upon the question of summer garb that he follows are well worthy of reproduction.

Here are a few of the ore palpably cogent deductions.

Never wear a waistband or sash when the waistcoat is worn.

Nor a fancy waistcoat with a flannel shirt.

Nor a pot hat with negligee costume.

Nor a high hat with a colored shirt or suiting.

Never wear a stiff shirt with a reefing suit.

Nor any of the fanciful adjuncts of outing with the tropical weight suiting for town wear.

Nor negligee costume indoors in ladies’ society after 6 p.m.

The sash may be worn with the Tuxedo sack, as may also the straw hat for evening wear, but any innovation of negligee with the swallowtail should be frowned upon.

It can be easily figured out that the expenditure for exclusively outing stuffs by this exemplar of heavy swelldom amounts to over $500.

If dapper Mr. Kutadash, who is a clerk in a down town store at from $800 to $1,200 per year, wishes to put in his two weeks’ vacation at any of the summer resorts and make an impression he may get the gauge of what is correct from the campaign mapped out for young Mr. Van Gilder. He can, moreover, bring the outing within his more limited means and yet figure conspicuously for a brief period as a well ordered type of the outing young man.

To do this it would be advisable to purchase ready made for from ten to fifteen dollars an outing coat and trousers. The cassimere serge, gray background striped design would be a more useful suiting, for this might be worn in town occasionally and upon the short out of town trips to Coney Island, Long Branch and other nearby points.

In outing caps the tennis pattern for seventy-five cents; a Windsor tie, fifty cents; a leather waist belt, seventy-five cents; a good negligee shirt of silk and wool for two or three dollars, and he is rigged out at an outlay of from fourteen to twenty dollars. This amount may be built upon as the would be swell’s salary and inclination warrant.

The two extreme types of the outing young man here presented will be reproduced all over the country by contemporaneous thousands, illustrating the intermediate degree of exploitation.

But it is well to have in mind for emulation some such authentic figure of fashion as young Mr. Van Gilder when the outing purchases are being made.

“Buttles,” said Mr. Van Gilder, as the cab was announced a few days later, “I have not forgotten anything? The tennis and yachting shoes I have included!”

“No, sir, unless you would take your mackintosh.”

“By all means, Buttles. It rains in summer as well as in April, and one needs one’s rain coat for the rainy days, or one will be suspected of not being the owner of so essential a garment.”

Thus will it be seen that underlying the finical consideration the swell gives to his attire there runs a logical vein of clear cut common sense

William Addison Clarke.

Harrisburg [PA] Daily Independent 20 May 1892: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil shudders to think what the effect would be should the “swell” marry a “Summer Girl” who had an equal preoccupation with her wardrobe. We have seen how much “The Season” can cost for the lady with a $10,000 dress allowance. And the male butterfly was not much better. The efficient Mr Buttles would probably have to be given notice in the face of mounting bills from dressmaker and tailor.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


4 thoughts on “Young Mr Van Gilder’s Summer Outing Costumes: 1892

    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      Too kind! Young Mr Van Gilder reminded Mrs Daffodil of a less well-written version of Bertie Wooster, who had a nice sense of fashion, carefully vetted by Jeeves, of course.
      Best wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Dressing on $50 to $200 a Year: 1898 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

  2. Pingback: How to be a Well-Dressed Young Man on a Budget: 1890 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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